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Lesson Transcript

Mohammad: Hi everyone! Mohammad here.
Becky: Hello, and welcome back to PersianPod101.com. I’m Becky, and this is All About, Lesson 2 - Cracking the Persian Writing System. In this lesson, Mohammad and I are going to give you some details about the Persian writing system.
Mohammad: We’ll focus on the Persian alphabet in this lesson.
Becky: The Persian alphabet is easy to learn, because the shapes of most characters are similar to each other, and there are many sounds that are similar to English.

Lesson focus

Mohammad: The Persian alphabet has 32 characters, which gives it more sounds than English, and also more than 1 letter with the same sound.
Becky: Does that number also cover the letters not found in the Arabic language?
Mohammad: Yes, the 4 letters of (P)"پ", (ZH)”ژ", (G)"گ", (CH)"چ" from the 32 letters of the Persian language don't exist in the Arabic alphabet.
Becky: Ok, so Muhammad - we said that most characters are similar to each other. Can you explain that a little more?
Mohammad: Of course! Like we said before, there are many similar characters, which only differ by a stroke or the placement or number of dots, like for example: the letter (T)"ت" has two dots above it, while the letter (B) "ب" has the same shape but with only one dot below it. And the letter (G)"گ" is the same as (K)"ک" but with one more stroke above it.
Becky: That’s interesting. And can you tell us, what are some additional characteristics of Persian letters?
Mohammad: Well, unlike English, Persian letters don't have capital and lowercase forms. Instead, each letter can be written in "initial", "medial", or "final" forms, depending on which part of the word they are in.
Becky: Okay, I know that in addition to their sounds, each Persian letter has a name. Maybe it would be a good idea if we could hear them all in one place for once.
Mohammad: Sure, I'll say them in Persian alphabetical order: Alef, Be, Pe, Te, Se, Jim, Che, He, Khe, Dal, Zal, Re, Ze, Zhe, Sin, Shin, Sad, Zad, Ta, Za, Ein, Ghein, Fe, Ghaf, Kaf, Gaf, Lam, Mim, Noon, Vav, He, Ye.
Becky: Thank you! Their sounds are usually the first letter of their name. As you heard, some of the same sounds have 2 or more forms.
Mohammad: That's right!
Becky: What about vowels? Are they also part of this alphabet? It seems to me that I heard names with vowel beginnings only once or twice.
Mohammad: You’re right. Vowels are also hidden parts of this alphabet. Like the letter "Alef", which makes the four different vowel sounds of A, O, E, and AA when written in different forms. Or the letters "Vav" and "Ye" which besides “V” and “Y”, can make the vowel sounds of U, O, and I/EE.
Becky: And the second "He" sounds like EH at the end of words, but is not a vowel. So, do all letters have "initial", "medial", or "final" forms?
Mohammad: There are 7 letters that are written the same way, anywhere in a word, which are: Alef - with the sound of A; Dal, Zal, Re, Ze, Zhe, and Vav.
Becky: That's true. And it seems like these sounds cannot be found in English, right?
Mohammad: Right. For example, we have the "AA" sound of "Alef", and 6 other letters that create the 4 sounds of GH, EA, ZH, and KH.
Becky: Ok! Now let's move on to the pronunciation marks used in Persian.
Mohammad: Ok. There are 4 marks which we use above letters to show their pronunciation points. Though they're often removed, but still pronounced.
Becky: One by one, the first one is:
Mohammad: "Tashdid".
Becky: It is used to show the sound of a letter heard twice, or doubled in a row.
Mohammad: It's written as two attached crescents that we put above the repeated letter, like the letter "CH" in the word "Bachcheh", meaning "child".
Becky: The second one is...
Mohammad: "Hamze",
Becky: which represents the glottal stop with no sound, or the sound of "EA".
Mohammad: It's written like a small "Ein" consonant, and sounds the same. Like the little pause in the word "Mas-eale" meaning "problem".
Becky: The third one is called...
Mohammad: "Tanvin",
Becky: That occurs in the Arabic adverb termination, similar to "ly" in English", and is pronounced "AN", as in "Man".
Mohammad: It’s written as two small strokes downwards to the left and usually above the last "A" of the word. Like the "AN" sound in the word "Vaghean", which means "really".
Becky: And last but not least, it's...
Mohammad: "Sokun"
Becky: which is used to show that there aren't any short vowels between two consonants, though it is rarely used.
Mohammad: It's a caret or an upside down "v" mark, above the consonant, and it’s silent. Like the "rm" combination in the word "Garm" which means "hot".
Becky: Okay. To summarize, the two most important things we've learned about are the Persian alphabet’s 32 characters, and the pronunciation marks.
Mohammad: That’s right. Please join us next time, when we explore more about Persian grammar.


Becky: That’s all for this lesson. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Mohammad: Bye.